[Tweeters] Nisqually Wednesday Walk, 12/3/2014
shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Dec 4 14:04:20 PST 2014
thirty plus birders enjoyed a very nice chilly morning at Nisqually
yesterday, with partly cloudy skies, temperatures in the 30's-40's degrees
Fahrenheit, and a Low 5'10" Tide at 8:48am and a High 14'5" Tide at 2:20pm.
We observed a good diversity of species, 74, with good numbers of waterfowl
in beautiful breeding plumage and Dunlin flying around the mud flats.
At 6:50am Nathanael Swecker observed two GREAT HORNED OWLS in the area of
last years nest tree on the inside of the Twin Barns Loop Trail just east
of the Twin Barns Cut-off. Around the same time I observed a BARN OWL
perched in the short Cedar and Douglas Fir Trees just west of the flag pole
across for the Visitor Center. There have been other reports of both
species of owl, as well Barred Owl, but they are difficult to spot during
the day so I would recommend a pre-sunrise visit after the gate is open.
Yesterday the gate opened around 6:40am, the published gate opening is
sunrise to sunset.
Starting out at 8am at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook, we had great looks
at RING-NECKED DUCK, AMERICAN WIGEON, GADWALL, MALLARD, CANADA GOOSE,
PIED-BILLED GREBE, PACIFIC WREN, SONG SPARROW, LINCOLN'S SPARROW, and nice
fly overs of CACKLING GOOSE and RED-TAILED HAWK.
The Orchard was a good stop for picking up good viewing of BALD EAGLE,
RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER, VARIED THRUSH, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, SPOTTED
TOWHEE and GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW.
>From the Access Road overlooking the fields south of the Twin Barns, we saw
11 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE roosting on the old McAllister Creek Road
and the leucystic GREAT BLUE HERON flew in to feed on the grassland.
Overhead we heard an AMERICAN PIPIT fly over.
The Twin Barns Loop Trail, and really any wooded portion of the Refuge,
provided good opportunities to observe DOWNY WOODPECKER, GOLDEN-CROWNED
KINGLET, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, BROWN CREEPER,
BEWICK'S WREN, PACIFIC WREN, SONG SPARROW, and FOX SPARROW. There was a
VIRGINIA RAIL heard and seen on the inside of the trail just south of the
Twin Barns Cut-off. Conveniently a PEREGRINE FALCON is often seen perched
in the Cottonwood Trees above this area, as well we often see small numbers
of sparrows DARK-EYED JUNCO'S and additional GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS. The
east side of the trail on our return was a good area to observe PILEATED
WOODPECKER, HAIRY WOODPECKER, and PINE SISKIN.
>From the Twin Barns Observation Platform, it's easy to scan the majority of
the Refuge interior. The flooded fields were frozen and all of the
waterfowl found sanctuary in the salt water tidal flats area. From this
view point we were able to see the NORTHERN SHRIKE, many RED-TAILED HAWK,
BALD EAGLE and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL dispersed over the entire region.
Three NORTHERN HARRIER, and two PEREGRINE FALCON were counted for the day.
HOUSE FINCH and additional LINCOLN'S SPARROW have been regularly seen
feeding in the bramble along the fresh water slough.
On the new dike or Nisqually Estuary Trail, we enjoyed picking through the
thousands of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN WIGEON, and DUNLIN, looking for
other species and anything unusual. We observed good numbers of MALLARD,
NORTHERN SHOVELER, NORTHERN PINTAIL and BUFFLEHEAD. Other species seen
included GREATER YELLOWLEGS, and WILSON SNIPE. Brian Sullivan spotted an
AMERICAN X EURASION WIGEON HYBRID with a red head, light cheeks and
Out on the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail, the remaining group enjoyed
good views of RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, COMMON GOLDENEYE, DOUBLE-CRESTED
COMORANT, SURF SCOTER, HORNED GREBE, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, LEAST SANDPIPER,
and BELTED KINGFISHER. Additional species included BRANDT COMORANT, COMMON
LOON, RHINOCEROS AUKLET, WESTERN GULL, RING-BILLED GULL, MEW GULL and
additional GREAT BLUE HERON. COMMON RAVEN and STELLER'S JAY were heard
along the west bank of McAllister Creek. Doug observed a very light
dihedral shaped buteo flying along the west bank which was a good candidate
for a Rough-legged Hawk, but could not be confirmed.
The Nisqually River Overlook and Riparian Forest Overlook were quiet. We
dipped on observing any Common Mergansers. Back at the Visitor Center, a
second WILSON'S SNIPE was foraging on the muddy spring peninsula just to
the right of the pond overlook.
Mammals seen included Coyote, Harbor seal and Sea Lion.
For the year we've seen 179 species on the extended walks.
Until next week, when Phil returns to lead the walk, good birding!
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